The end of ‘free’ flights with Airmiles and your guide to Avios

The Airmiles, BA Executive Club, and Iberia Plus loyalty and reward schemes have been renamed ‘Avios’ today, bringing in new rules for members.

Source: Steve Parsons/PA

Airmiles, the UK travel loyalty programme was rebranded ‘Avios’ today, bringing an end to ‘free’ flights for its two million members.

The overhaul means that customers now have to pay taxes, fees and surcharges on flights redeemed with Avios points.

The merger between BA and Spanish airline Iberia prompted parent company IAG to bring in a single currency for its airlines’ frequent flyer programmes and for Airmiles, which is owned by British Airways.

Avios will also be the shared currency for the British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus loyalty programmes.

The Mileage Company, which runs the Airmiles scheme, said it could no longer absorb the taxes, fees and surcharges, including the UK’s aviation tax, Air Passenger Duty (APD), which has been rising over the years.

Under the relaunched Airmiles scheme, the extra fees and charges could add up to more than £300 for a trip to New York and £500 to Australia.

While taxes, fees and charges on certain European flights have been capped at £27.

Although BA, Iberia and Airmiles’ reward schemes are now under the Avios umbrella, they will continue to be run separately, and members will collect Avios instead of BA Miles and Iberia Plus points.

All change with Avios

All points under the three schemes have been converted to the new Avios currency.

Airmiles have been multiplied by 10 to create Avios points, while Iberia Plus points have been multiplied by 15 and the number of BA Miles have been converted like-for-like.

As examples, 700 Airmiles becomes 7,000 Avios, 700 Iberia Plus points converts to 10,500 Avios and 700 BA Miles becomes 700 Avios points.

Airmiles members will notice the biggest changes.

As well as having to pay taxes, customers will need more points for some destinations, including its popular short-haul routes such as from London to Paris or Amsterdam.

As examples, 700 Airmiles becomes 7,000 Avios, 700 Iberia Plus points converts to 10,500 Avios and 700 BA Miles becomes 700 Avios points.

While some destinations will require fewer points, including New York.

The changes give customers more flexibility, unlike with Airmiles.

Points collected can now be redeemed on one-way flights and ‘open-jaw’ trips, enabling customers to fly from one airport and back from another.

Flyers won’t lose miles for changing or cancelling flights, unlike under the Airmiles scheme.

It will also be possible for customers to change flights up to 24 hours before departure for a £25 fee.

And the new scheme brings an end to surcharges for flying out from regional airports.

Points can still be collected with partners, including Tesco, Lloyds TSB and Shell.

BA adds new Bronze tier to frequent flyer programme

A major change for BA Exec Club members is that Avios points can now be redeemed against hotels and car rental, as well as flights.

To coincide with the Avios rebrand, British Airways has introduced a new Bronze tier for Executive Club card holders, as part of a relaunch of its seven million member loyalty programme.

The Executive Club will now have four tiers ranging from Blue to Gold – with each having their own identity.

The Bronze tier is a notch above Blue and one below the Silver tier.

It only takes half the tier points to qualify for Bronze than the number needed for Silver.

Speaking at a UK travel trade show last week, BA managing director for brands and customer experience, Frank van der Post said the new Bronze tier would “give more of our frequent flyer blue card holders something to aspire to.”

Among the benefits, customers who qualify for the Bronze tier will have access to business class check-in and can make a seat selection seven days before departure.

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